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Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Bandra Feast.

During my years as a student in Bombay, I longed for the arrival of this date - the unforgettable date - that is the 8th of September, the feast of Our Lady of the Mount. It is a great day for all the faithful as well as for the business people. Thousands of peopke from all walks of life flock to the beautiful and religious shrine, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion to pay their annual homage and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

But for me as a young lad, the wait was more for the fun fair that I looked forward to - the games, the giant wheel, the different stalls selling different toys, clothes and snacks.

This majestic Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, is situated on a hillock in Bandra, Mumbai, India. The week-long feast is celebrated and culminates on birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During the time when I was in Goa as a young child, I accompanied other boys and girls from our village to St. Diogo's with little baskets of flowers and sang 'Devache Maie, pau to amkam'. During the celebration all children stood in line along the centre aisle and tossed the flowers up in the air over our heads in adoration.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Feasts in Goa are commonly celebrated in almost each and every chapel or church dedicated to the village patron saint. It is customary that these feasts be celebrated by the “President” who bears all the expenses involved. In the absence of a president the village celebrates the feast by subscriptions from the people of their particular villages.

Of Village Chapel Feasts

It was the day of the feast of their patron saint in the village chapel. The chapel bell rang at 5 o’clock in the morning. The young boy had told his mother the previous night before going to sleep, to wake him up before five o’clock that morning, as he was very anxious to hear the band play the “Alvarada” soon after the bell. He did not want to miss hearing the tune he liked so much.

No sooner the pealing of the bell fell silent than the band started to play his favourite tune in full swing. It could be very clearly heard in the pre-dawn serenity and calmness of the morning, in spite of the chapel being quit a distance away from where he lived. The music sounded great and the boy was breathless trying to catch each and every note so that he could remember and hum it to himself later. Or perhaps one day he would learn to play it himself on an instrument like his neighbour did, he thought.

He would not go back to sleep again. He had to be on time for the first Mass as he had been selected to serve as one of the altar boys. On the way to the chapel he would try and memorize and repeat the Latin words to himself as he did not want to get them wrong or reply out of turn. In those days the Mass liturgy was in Latin.

As he neared the chapel in the misty early morning dawn, a girl dressed in her best approached running to the young lad, and picking a tiny paper flower from her small and neatly decorated basket, she pinned it on his shirt. Reaching in his pocket he deposited a coin in her basket for which she thanked him. This money was collected for the poor.

There used to be a lot of other Mass services that were held by the hour especially on feast days. The solemn high mass would start at 10 o’clock in the morning along with a lot of fanfare, pealing of bells, firing of crackers and the boom of the “khozne”.

There were lot of small stalls already lined up by the side of the chapel selling all sorts of things, sweets of different types, roasted gram, fire-crackers, balloon and toys.

The boy would never miss the concelebrated high mass by priests from other parishes specially chosen and invited for the occasion by the celebrant of the feast. More importantly this mass was never to be missed because there was special choir along with orchestral backing of various musical instruments like the oboe, flute, piccolo, clarinet, fife, cello, violin and the double bass.

The choir master tried to do his best waving his baton while he directed the choir of talented youngsters. The boy greatly admired so many voices blended so well together singing high and lows, first, second and thirds. Some of those faces of the boys in the choir were new to the boy. Perhaps they were chosen from another parish, he thought. Next year or perhaps even after that he would be selected and trained was his wishful thought.

A well known priest, famous for his thundering sermons, had been summoned for the grand high mass. He began by first invoking the patron saint to shower his blessings on the celebrant and his family, the villagers and their guests. He admired the beauty of the old chapel and praised the organizers for doing such a good job in decorating the chapel. He then intoned a short verse from the Scriptures in Latin that echoed through the chapel and followed with a brief explanation of the same. The sermon seemed quite long.

Otherwise the people would say it was very short. If it was short the people would say that he did not say anything at all. He was wiping the sweat off his face every now and then with his hand kerchief which he tucked in the broad sleeves of his vest while his black cap rested on the edge of the pulpit. He was a very good preacher, well prepared, loud and clear, and said everything to the point.

Twice in between his sermon he did say a verse again in Latin, words which he had especially chosen from the Scripture and gave a brief explanation of the same while outside the chapel, in the stalls, there was a lot of activity which was normal and usual during these types of feasts.

Then there was Holy Communion and Benediction during which the choir sang a beautiful and solemn rendition of “O Salutaris”. Later at the grand procession, the boy along with the other altar boys were walking at the front of the procession line, which was led by the celebrant carrying a holy banner of the day’s saint with Latin insignia written on it, followed by an assortment of clergy, confraria in their purple and red “opmus”, the villagers and their guests from far and near, while the chapel bells tolled amidst the sound of Gregorian chants that the band played trudging along last in the line.

After the Mass was over the boy, everyone wished “Happy Feast” to everyone else. Later as was customary the boy gave alms to the poor who lined up outside the chapel holding coconut shells in their hands. One of them, a frail old man said to the boy: “May you become a big and clever boy” And another old man with a cane said: “May God give you good health and a good job when you become big”. The boy wished he could distribute more change to the rest of them but he needed the change himself that was left. He did not want to run short.

So the boy then bought a small toy car for himself which he had seen and selected before the high mass services could begin. He had saved little money to buy it. Also his mother and grandmother had given him some money, saying: “Hey, son, this is for you, for the feast”. He used that money for some roasted gram and sweets and went on
his way home for a great lunch that awaited him.
While he walked home through the winding road through the fields and villages people were lighting crackers and some of them said to him from their balconies:
“ Happy Feast, come for the feast to our house” to which the boy replied “You must come to our house, Happy Feast to you too.”

Friday, August 14, 2009


Adele Chen Alvarez
Born: 1 February 1977
Died: 14 August 2009
(For an enlarged view please click on picture)


(Adele : far right)

It hurts us a lot to hear the very sad news about Adele's passing away. She was a very dear friend of my daughter Denise, and of her friends too. Adele was one of the team members who loved and enjoyed life. It is indeed very hurting that this charming and loving young member of this dynamic team has been abruptly snatched away prematurely. Through my daughter Denise and her friends we knew Adele and loved her a lot too, just like one of our very own.

Adele was our friend too. She had a great zest for life. We prayed and hoped that she would come out of her dreadful illness. I am very sorry to hear about her passing away, and find it difficult to believe that she is no more.

I remember the day when Adele together with one of her most dearest friends, Desiree, took a 3-hour bus journey, changing 3 buses, all the way to Mississauga from Scarborough to see us soon after we arrived in Canada. She also had us over at her place for lunch at her Scarborough home in the late 1990's while she tried to make us feel at home.

But above all, I will miss her typical, distinct and infectious giggle, her admirable personality and her perpetual smile.

Together we grieve. I can almost hear her giggle and see her smile. A wonderful youthful person has left us just after five years of her marriage that we attended. We think and pray for her loving and supportive husband Alex, her loving mother, father, brother and relatives, offering our most heartfelt sympathies.

Never has a day been more sad than today.

Adele Chen Alvarez was only 32. I cannot believe she's gone. Long, long before her time.
She will be missed by all those who knew her.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


(Konkani Poem)

Celebrating World Goa Day - 20th August 2009
by Tony Fernandes

Goeam, Goeam, Goa, Goa munnon,
Pois thaun aundde kaddun
Pollounk axetam boro tuzo fuddar and boremponn
Porke zatik sangtam zaite tujem vhodponn
Dukh maka dista atam aikun
Bailea lokan vaitt tuka kelam legun.

Goeam, Goa, munnon, zaitoch tuzo ugddass kortam
Don-tin vorsanim pollounk tuka aum etam,
Tuji suropaieche fottu zaite aum kaddtam,
Porto bhair vetoch sodanch te polletam
Ani kallzak tenkoun samballun te dovortam.
Sam Francis Xaviera dhi maka tum gottai,
Udenticho missionar khorench tum vortotai
Samball kor Goencho ani Goenchea lokacho
Kednanch sandinakaim, kiteak etolom aum ek dis porto.

Nimanom soddchea adim aum ho ullas
Favo kor munn magtam atin gheun hi kals
Bagounk moji ekuch axea
Mathi dhi maka mojea ganvchi khaxea.

Tony Fernandes

Friday, August 07, 2009


(Memories of Goa)

Poem in Konkani by Tony Fernandes

Celebrating World Goa Day - 20 August 2009

Ugddas burgeaponnailo maka sodanch eta,
Jednam xinkunk ami Escola Primaria
Barabor chollon ami vetale
Ani daktule uzar kelele cherache batlen
Slate pussunk irlexem udok ami vortale.

Primeir, segund, tercer, kaddun talle
Ladainh cantad ami kortale;
Salve kabar zalea uprant
Kotten vath pettoun
Xamainchea atik dhorun ghara vetale.

Ugddas maka sodanch eta
Novea Vorsacho ani Natalanche ratricho;
Modianichem miss zalea uprant
Vaddeantlea lokak uttoitale
Zage ravon amchea daktulea vaddeant
Cantaram korun rath sartale.

Boas Festas do Natal, Feliz Ano Novo,
Deu Boro Dis Dhium, Deu Bori Rath Dhium,
Kai borim him vinchun kaddlelim utranim
Sogleank ami vodkitaleum.

Gaunchea Festachi feri
Pollounk disso chodd bori
Khuxealkaien lok kori festachi toeiari,
Fath-gravat bandunk urba amkam etali
Ani Corar ravon amim Miss Cantad kori.

Ugddas maka sodanch eta
Ponjeche taricho ani Goencheam ferri-bottincho
Vollok korunk ek zantti maka vinchari
Baba tum khuincho?
Tor gorib aum zaun khoro
Fokannanim zabab ditalom
Ek batkar munn aum Guirvodcho.

Visronk ekdom kottin Mapxencho bazar
Kiteak khuinchoruch naslo eka tempar
Itlo voddlo mercad - kherit bazaracho dis aslo ek Sunkrar
Meutaleo vostu thuim zinsanvar
Punn atam tor teka poloixi zalear
Zaleat tache Bara Berestar ani Tera Sunkrar.

Tony Fernandes June 1989

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Cathedral of
ST. ANNE de Beaupre
Quebec, Canada

Church of St. Anne
Parra, Bardez, Goa - India
Chapel dedicated to
Guirim, Cumbiem Morod,
Bardez, Goa - India.
(where I grew up)

Thursday, July 23, 2009



This is a sign that comes in various forms, sizes and designs, pictures, drawings, carvings in many homes. It can be purchased in many stores. By having a sign that reads 'God Bless Our Home' we are asking God to bless us and our families, by keeping us in peace and harmony, safe and united.

Catholic homes in Goa, India, have little a wooden niche with hinged glass doors called 'ollont-tor' (Konkani, ollont: wall; tor: tower or spire), placed into a recess made in the wall of
the prayer hall, in the houses of the rich and poor alike. There is also a provision of a stand where candles, an oil lamp or vases with flowers can be placed. The 'ollont-tor' is almost a miniature representation of a church or chapel facade, with a graceful and artistic hand-carved ornamented gothic spire topped with a cross and columns on either side of the glass door.

Inside the niche, statues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, St. Francis Xavier, St. Anthony and others saints are placed. The miniature high altars come in various shapes, colours and sizes. The front of the base bracket is usually draped with a decoratively embroidered cloth with the caption "GOD BLESS OUR HOME". In addtion to this many homes have plaques or pictures with this invocative phrase calling for blessings of the Lord Almighty.

As a child I remember these niches were sold at the Feast of Nossa Senhora de Milagres in Mapusa and at the Feast of Nossa Senhora de Candelaria in Pomburpa, Bardez, Goa. India.

In the old houses of our ancestors, we could see as many as 15 large framed pictures of our favourites saints above, and on both sides, of this miniature high altar. Hiding behind one or more of these icons would be the lizards making brief appearances at intervals during the evening Rosary time, preying on insects or moths that were drawn to the burning candles.

In many homes a separate bracket complete with candles and a lamp is dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour with special devotional prayers and novenas recited every Wednesday.
The above pyrographic drawing is made
on pine wood plaque size 7" x 5"
by Tony Fernandes

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The Last Crab says
to the
as it leaves for a safer environment.

(For an enlarged view please click on the drawing)

Monday, July 20, 2009


(Strange sounds in the wee hours of the morning)

A short story by Tony (a.k.a. Felicio) Fernandes

It was a cold and dark night. Shortly the blooming and fragrant flowers of the 'Onvoll' tree will start to fall. This lone tree was located about half a mile away from Felicio's house, on the raised short pathway that connected his village to the main road at Guirim, Bardez, Goa. It was not attractive to look at during the day, but the fragrance of its flowers that blossomed in the night was enthralling, albeit contrary to its appearance.

Felicio tried hard to keep awake. It was midnight. In a short while he and his cousins would have to accompany his mother to pick the flowers known as 'onvllam' in Konkani. The sweet and enchanting scent of these flowers could easily be sensed half a mile away. They were prized, tiny, star-shaped and aromatic flowers. They looked beautiful and smelled good when made into garlands, and fetched a premium price at the local flower market in nearby town.

Felicio glanced at the imported 'JAZ' alarm clock on the table. It was 1.00 am. 
Times were hard. During those days in the late 1950's in Goa, many folks were going through days of an economic embargo imposed on this tiny colonial enclave by a mighty nation. Young Felicio and other children had to endure great hardships through no fault of their own. Felicio's father worked in Bombay, while Felicio and his mother were in Goa - Estado da India under the Portuguese.

An enterprising way to sustain was selling flowers. This involved picking flowers in the very early hours of the morning, making them into garlands and then wholesale them to retailers in the flower market in the nearby town of Mapusa. This was one of the innovative ways to survive through those bad times.

It was Yuletide, late December. The 'pontti' (lamp) in the bamboo 'star' shed a dim glow around the entrance to Felicio's house. The captivating fragrance of the beautiful flowers of the 'onvoll' tree had just started to permeate the air. It was also getting chilly. Felicio donned his old oversized  'vaddtea angar' (for the growing body in the literary sense) sweater, while in the back room his mother trimmed the wick of the hurricane lamp and filled it with kerosene, getting it ready to take along with them, to light up their way to the magnificent 'onvoll' tree.

With small baskets in hand they were now on their way, walking towards the 'onvoll' tree located on the outskirts of their village. Young children were always made to walk in front of elders in the night. So Felicio being the youngest - he was leading - while his young cousins and his mother, holding the hurricane lamp, followed behind. Felicio turned his head and looked towards his house as he walked. The light from the Christmas 'Star' that he had made glowed faintly in the distance. "Never look back while walking in the night", his grandma would have said, but Felicio's grandma had passed away the previous year. He had often thought about her and momentarily remembered her.

They soon approached the 'onvoll' tree and saw the white flowers which had just fallen, lying on the ground as if sprinkled by a divine hand. Without delay they stooped down and started picking them up from the outer-most edge. And as they picked the tiny flowers, more fell, twirling as they spiraled to the ground. Felicio glanced towards his right shoulder. Far towards the south, were the faint lights atop Monte de Guirim. In the east, the rising moon cast an yellowish glow. The lights of Mapusa town glimmered faintly towards the north. The three clearly visible bright stars that formed the Hunter's belt in the constellation of the Orion shone brightly above. His grandmother was an expert of the night skies. She would lecture Felicio about the night skies on warm summer nights. She had often pointed and shown him the Seven Sisters - the cluster of the Pleiades which she called 'Sath Zanni Bhoinni'. She had also told him that the nickname for the Evening Star was 'Bebdeanchem Neketr' which apparently guided tipsy men walking home from the local tavernas.

During these interim thoughts of Felicio, the pace of the falling flowers seemed to have intensified. There was no time to admire and think about stars or the night skies. Felicio, his mother and his cousins continued to keep up with the pace of the endlessly falling flowers while he hummed a 'Yuletide' tune under his breath in the dense and cold night air. The owl hooted in the distance as his cousins huddled closer to his mother, but Felicio had to be a brave boy - a young guardian of support in the night. Nevertheless, thoughts of 'shimeilo' (the phantom of the night and other spine-chilling stories that his grandmother often related crept up. At times like these, he tried hard to keep such scary ideas at bay. Would the fabled phantom of the night be passing by any moment now, Felicio wondered. Would he hear the stomping of this legendary man's feet at any moment now ? And the thumping sound of the staff that he is supposed to carry?

Two baskets of 'onvllam' were almost overflowing already after about an hour of picking up. Felicio tried to guess the time. It could be about 4 a.m. perhaps, he thought. No sign of the sound of the 'shing-shing' of the fabled 'shimieilo', the phantom guardian of the village, yet. Perhaps it was past his time.

The third basket was already overflowing. Lot of garlands for sale the next day, Felicio thought.

Then, just as they were about to wind up picking up the flowers, they heard faint sounds of rhythmic thuds in the distance, almost a slow staccato beat of 2-2-1-2-2, followed instantly by a distinct but a soft 'shi-shing' sound similar to a clash of mini cymbals. Was the 'shimieilo' late on his nightly rounds along the perimeter of the village? Felicio guessed it would soon be time for the 5 o'clock morning matinee church bells for the Angelus prayers, and also the time when the cock would crow. And no self-respecting 'shimieilo' should be around at this time, Felicio thought. The morning star would soon be rising - 'Stella Matutina' as grandma would say.

"Let's go home," said mother, "these should be ample for now," as she picked up one of the baskets of flowers with one hand and raised the lamp with the other. Felicio noticed one of his quiet cousins making the 'Sign of the Cross'. The distant sound persisted without abating. They were now on their way home. A thin blanket of fog had just start to form around them as the quartet walked hurriedly homewards nudging close to each other.

A short nap and they would have to rise again to make the flowers into garlands.

Felicio still has one lingering thought on his mind, and that is to solve the 'mystery' of the night. What could that constant thud that kept on repeating at an unfailing and unfaltering rhythm be? He would leave that thought to be unraveled in the morning. He had an interesting story to impress and regale the village folks. Perhaps grandma was right about the 'shimeilo' after all. The distant thumping sound still persisted, the steady beat continued while Felicio soon fell asleep to the rhythmic sounds of 'duh-dum-shing-duh-dum'.

It was dawn. The fowls, the pigs and the crows joined all the other birds in making a huge cacophony around the periphery of the house. There were dew-drops on the grass and on the flowers in the garden. Felicio woke up a little later than usual. He had missed the usual daily early morning round of the 'poder' (travelling bread-man), who had already delivered loaves of bread. He sat in the 'balcao' waiting for his mother to call him for breakfast. He would then discuss with his mother about the strange and rhythmic thuds they had heard in the small hours of the morning.

As he sat sipping tea his mother had some good news for him. Firstly, the garlands were ready; apparently she had not slept. Secondly, she had already guessed and found out what he was more anxious to know. Apparently their neighbours had heard those sounds too. The mystery about the strange sounds they had heard was solved. It so happened that the folks who lived at the far end of the village had risen up very early that morning, to pound and husk par-boiled rice that they had decided to take to the local market for sale that morning. The mysterious percussion 'Duh-Dum' was the sound created by a pair of womenfolk, each one striking with precision into the hollow in the ground known as 'vaahn', using long and thick wooden poles. But what was the faint, eerie and puzzling sound of 'shing, shing' they had heard?  well, they happened to be the sounds produced by the clashing of the bangles on the hands of the women who were working hard, pounding with thick wooden poles on the par-boiled rice producing a rhythmic 'Duh-Dum, Shing, Duh-Dum' sequence - the eerie and mystifying sounds in the wee hours of a very cold morning of late December 1957. And I know this story is true. I was that boy Felicio.

Tony (a.k.a. 
Felicio) Fernandes

Author of: GOA - Memories of My Homeland

"Shimeilo" : according to legend, myth and superstition - a phantom guard, held in much awe and wonder - a protector of the night, believed to have been protecting every village in Goa. He is a  fabled well-built, broad-shouldered man, walking with a staff in his hand, and is supposed to have been making his nightly rounds along the perimeters of the villages at night.
Shim or (Xim): (Konkani) Village Border, hence 'Shimielo' or 'Ximeilo' (personified) meaning: 'man of the border'.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Goans have always had a penchant for travel far and beyond the borders of our homeland in search of work. Some traveled to the eastern shores of British and Portuguese Africa in the days of colonial past.
Those were the days.

The Voyage of Destiny
Beneath my feet
The timber deck  rumbled
And leaving in its wake
A surf trail
Its way out

It gently nudged
From the quiet and serene

Marmagoa harbour.

The legendary “Kampala” 

So white and sleek
In the hot afternoon sun gleamed;
From the grand pier’s edge
My folks waved tearful adieu;
More then a thousand score
From the aft deck I waved out too
Till my arm was sore
And could see them no more.

Fifteen days and nights

Seemed like a year
On the ocean waves

We pitched and rolled
Into the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea;
A plain horizon eventually

Yielded to landfall finally
And amid apprehensions aplenty
I set foot on the golden shores
Of the East African country.

Familiar faces
Friends of my family
At the docks I recall

They came to greet me
‘Jambo’ they said, ‘Habari’,

‘Ashante’, ‘Karibuni’,
The very first words

I heard in Swahili.

Hard work and good times,
picnics and safaris galore
Under a canopy of skies so azure;
Wildlife from lion and zebra,
Parrot and sparrow,
To hills, glens and lakes 

And the snow-capped peaks
of the Kilimanjaro
I still reminisce and adore.

While history took its course with uncertainty,
To embark on yet another voyage
Must have been life’s destiny;
I rejoice today as I look back and see
How we still dwell in great harmony;
I thank God for this great country
That welcomed me and my family,
While for a better future I pray
For one and all

Now and beyond this century.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Days of the Passenger Ships

'Navigating through the River Mandovi'
Passenger Ship berthed at the Panjim Jetty
Goa - India
(Line Artwork by Tony Fernandes)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Hibiscus Flower

A Common Flower in Goa
In various colours, in every home garden.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), a tropical flower, belongs to the family Malvaceae. It gets its name from the Greek words Hibiscus meaning "mallow" and rosa-sinensis meaning "rose of China". Also known as 'Shoe Flower', it is an evergreen flowering shrub native to East Asia.
Photograph by
Tony Fernandes

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Pyrographic Drawing
by Tony Fernandes
on pinewood block size 10 in x 8 in.


"ECCE HOMO" (in other words: 'Behold the Man')

The Latin word composition 'Ecce Homo' is a standard component of cycles illustrating the Passion and Life of Christ.

It is also used as a title of Drawings of Jesus used by many great artists, depicting the time prior to His Crucifixion. Generally, in the art world, the words represent the scourging of Christ in a painting, in a statue or in other representations of Christ crowned with thorns.

These were Latin words meaning "Behold the Man" used by Pontius Pilate when he presented a scourged Jesus Christ, bound and crowned with thorns to a hostile crowd shortly before his Crucifixion.

'TonFerns Pyrography' - technique of burning images permanently into wood by hand using various types of styli at variable temperatures) Pyrographic Drawing by Tony Fernandes on pinewood block size 10 in x 8 in. - 3/4 in thick.

~ 'TonWoodburns' ~

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Se Cathedral, Goa, India

The Magnificent Se Cathedral,
Goa Velha (Old Goa), GOA, India
(View from the East)
Picture by Tony Fernandes

The original structure was erected in 1510. It was dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. In the following years it was extensively modified at various stages, the final one completed in 1652. It is an imposing structure, an archictectural marvel, displaying exquisite craftsmanship; breath-taking, both from the outside and inside.
This cathedral has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

GOA - Over the Centuries

Se Cathedral - Old Goa

Over the Centuries
Over the centuries
The people of Goa are known
For many things;
Their mando and dulpod
Their dekhni and zothi
Zatra and fugddi
Corridinho and waltzes.

Their folkloric stories.
Temples and churches,
Rivers and beaches,
Lighthouse and forts
And the magnificent waterfalls.

Serenades and promenades
And river ferries
Doce and bebinca
Sorpotel and chouriço

Laudainhas and little tavernas.
Their caju and cocunut fenni
Their tiatr, shigmo,
zagor and carnaval.

With proverb and saying
With wit and wisdom;
Warm is their welcome
And peace is their emblem

Goa, once known as Rome of the East
With legendary skills
In many a thing
From pottery to painting.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


A day set aside
to CELEBRATE our Goan Cultural Heritage.
Express SOLIDARITY with Goans
world wide on

20 AUGUST 2009

Monday, July 06, 2009


An intricate art of Goa
(Line art-work drawing by Tony Fernandes)
For an enlarged view please click on the drawing.

        Along one of the major and busiest highways in North America, called the 401, is a mind-boggling inter-woven set of road network system aptly called the 'Basketweave' that feeds the collectors/feeders into and out of the major highway, north of Toronto in Canada. If you miss negotiating in or out of the appropriate lane leading to your destination at one these weaves, it would mean something else to get back on track and a different story altogether.

        But this basket weave in the drawing above is just an another version of the interesting bamboo basket-weaves that are made in Goa, intricate in its unique structure and construction itself, and just as crafty and artistic, painstakingly hand-woven into varied patterns in different forms, shapes and sizes.
        In Konkani (language of the Konkan in Western India) these functional baskets are known as 'panttli' or 'panttlo' in the singular, or 'panttleo' in the plural form, made professionally by a certain class of people for generations. The 'panttli' is bigger, shallower and has a wider bottom, whereas the 'panttlo' is taller, narrower and smaller.

        Interesting to note though, that in Konkani, the language of the people of Goa, the former is referred to in the feminine gender and the latter in the masculine. The plural for 'panttli' is "panttleo" while the plural for 'panttlo' is "panttle". Mind-boggling? Yes, perhaps, just like the highways of North America.
        The portion of Highway 401 passing through Toronto is one of the longest (817.9 km/508.2 mi) from Windsor to the Quebec border, the widest and busiest in the world just like the special tribe that weave the complex basket patterns in Goa.

In the aerial view shown above, the basket weave roadway facilitates the switch-over of traffic from the Collector Lanes to the Express Lanes (and vice-versa) of Ontario Highway 401, for both eastbound and westbound lanes. This is just east of the Jane Street overpass, west of the Highway 401/Keele Street Interchange, in North York (Toronto).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Maritimes

'The Maritimes'
Near Magnetic Hill, City of Moncton
New Brunswick

Pyrography drawing
by Tony Fernandes

Encouraged by the success of my first 'wood-burning' I proceeded to do my next project above. I am not sure how many strokes of the pyrographic pen were involved, but they must definitely be in thousands!

From the beautiful hills of Fujeirah, United Arab Emirates, we move on to the serene beauty of the Maritimes in far away Canada, where once again, it was a pleasant trip for my wife and myself, sponsored by our 3 children.

The above pyrographic pen drawing is burnt into a bass wood block size 13" x 9". From a picture taken on our enjoyable trip to the amazing and mind-boggling 'Magnetic Hill' in the city of Moncton, New Brunswick, the Maritimes, where we had a merry time indeed!

Toronto to Montreal 503 Km (ViaRail)
Montreal to Halifax 1346 Km (ViaRail)

Halifax to Peggy's Cove N.S.) 42 Km
Peggy Cove to Halifax 42 Km
Halifax to Digby Ferry Point 230 Km

Halifax City and Around
The Citadel
Titanic Cemetery
Maritime Museum

Digby to St. John (N.B.) 80 Nautical Miles

St.John to Magnetic Hill
Magnetic Hill to St. John
St. John to Alma 132 Km
Alma to Hopewell Rocks 42 Km
Hopewell Rocks to Moncton (Reversing Falls)  37 M
Moncton to PEI via Sackville and Charlottetown Bridge 164 Km
Charlottetown to Souris 87 Km
Souris to Anne of Green Gables Museum 132 Km
From Green Gables to Wax Museum (Cavendish) 20 Km
From Cavendish to Souris 132 km
Souris to Wood Island Ferry Point 85 km

Wood Island to Caribou (N.S.) 28 Nautical miles

Caribou to Baddeck (via Port Hood) (Cabot Trail) 290 km
Baddeck to Cape North via Breton Cove (Cabot Trail) 136 Km
Cape North to Baddeck 36 Km
Baddeck to Halifax via Antigonish, New Glasgow, Truro 351 Km

Halifax to Toronto 1266 Km

Saturday, June 27, 2009

THE FUJEIRAH TREE - A Pyrographic Drawing

'The Fujeirah Tree'
by Tony Fernandes

In fact I am new to this art. This is my first 'Woodburning' drawing done with a 'pyrographic' pen - a very kind and thoughtful gift from my three children on 'Father's Day', 21st June, 2009. Having received it in the mail, I immediately put it to the test. After a few initial strokes I got to 'wood-burn' some scenes on a scrap piece of wood. And then by the third day I had already successfully 'pyrographed' the above drawing.

I have always been fascinated by silhouettes of trees. And photographing the forlorn acacia trees of Fujeirah (U.A.E.) were no exception, especially against a backdrop of the spectacular Hajjar mountains. This first project was inspired by the encouragement from my youngest daughter, after browsing through the photographs of these trees that I had taken a long time ago. My children were very young then. In those wonderful days we drove to picturesque Fujeirah (East coast of the U.A.E.) on enjoyable picnics more than 140 kilometres from Sharjah.

The size of the end-grain wood block (bass wood) is 13 x 9 inches approx. and the drawing is burnt into the wood using a single standard supplied pen. Various shaped tips and pens are available for achieving different textures, contours and designs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009



Article and drawing by Tony Fernandes
Once upon a time there lived a little boy in a small village with his mother. His father worked very far away and wrote home every month on a regular basis. "My father will return home some day", the boy thought, as he longed to see him. He looked at his dad's photograph everyday on his study table, a picture that was probably taken many years ago.

Then one late afternoon the postman came along with a letter from his father. The letter was addressed to his mother. He noticed there was a smile on her mother's face as she read the was a letter letting mother know of his arrival date. The little boy’s joy knew no bounds when she told that his father was due to arrive in a few days.

It was one fine day in mid-April. In the distance he saw him trudging along his suitcase with a bag slung over his shoulder. Smiling away he ran towards him. His father put his suitcase down, lifted, hugged and kissed the boy, who noticed a tear running down his father’s cheek. Wait till I tell mother about this, only children cry, he reflected. By then a neighbour had already hurried and reached up to them as well and helped his father with his suitcase.

Lifting his son and carrying him in the crook of his arm, and holding the bag with the other, he started to walk on the pathway leading towards their house. In the meantime his mother was on her way to greet him. He noticed his mother wiping a tear away too. “Why is everybody crying” the boy thought to himself, “when today is the happiest day of my life.”

“You have grown so big” his father said to the boy, who slid down as he stepped into the balcão. He sat down on the wooden bench while he laid the bag on the ground, wiping the sweat off his face with his handkerchief. Or were they again tears too, the boy wondered!

In the meantime, some of the neighbours had gathered to meet his father. Almost everyone went on to ask him something or the other. “How was the journey?” “Was the sea very rough?” “Will you be here with us for two months at least, Uncle?” “Why was the steamer delayed?”

The boy’s mother then lifted the suitcase to haul it inside while the rest continued talking outside in the small balcão of their house. Seeing her trying to lift the luggage, a village youth instantly ran to help her, saying: "Leave it to me, Aunty, I will take it inside. Just let me know where I should place it".

“We will go to the ‘praia’ today,” somebody suggested from the group of village folks who had assembled there in the courtyard. “Yes, yes, we must go to the sea-shore, uncle, you must come with us” said another. “Uncle is very tired and fatigued from the journey, let him rest today, we will go to the beach tomorrow or some other day” said an elderly man. And invariably they all agreed. The little boy did not say anything as he foresaw this was a good opportunity to have some time alone with his Dad.

Fun-filled days, that the boy had so anxiously looked forward to, would now follow, he thought. There would be many happy days ahead for him and for everyone else in the village. And other folks in his small village hoped the same too; a father, a husband or relative who would arrive in the following week or two to spend their holidays with their families. The entire village would then be vibrant and filled with joy. He had a lot of things to look forward to: picnics, weddings, litanies in homes and in village chapels, litanies at the crosses by the trodden paths through the fields and at the road-side crosses too. As darkness fell, during some evenings shortly after the Angelus prayers the young folks got together singing mando, durpod and all the popular hits in Konkani, Portuguese and English.

But soon those happy days would end too. Soon his father would have to leave and sail again to return to his job. The boy immediately tried to cast these thoughts away from his mind. But they kept on coming back to him. "My father has just arrived, but why am I thinking about this, there are lot of good times I have to think about", the little boy thought, sitting alone quietly in a corner with tears in his eyes.

But he soon realized that the holidays seemed to have passed by so quickly. Finally the day had come, a day that was so different from the one when his father arrived two months before. This was a sad day - this was the day when the ship set sail. The taxi driver from the adjoining village had come to fetch them early in the morning. The boy, his mother and a fellow village couple, who had always been their best friends, accompanied his father to the pier by the riverside of the capital city to bid him adieu. Looking into his father’s eyes he had sensed his reluctance to board. But his departure was inevitable and soon the hugs and kisses were brought to a halt with the booming siren of the ship.

The time had finally come for his father to board the ship. The boy saw him looking back and waving out to him as he climbed up the ramp leading to the ship and then again from the deck as the gleaming white ship set sail. The ship started moving gradually away from the pier. He waved back continuously till the ship grew smaller and smaller in the distance. Lost in his thoughts, he felt a hand over his shoulder. Then suddenly he was startled when he heard his mother’s voice say, “Son, don’t cry, your father will come back soon.” “He cannot be with us all the time, he will return shortly”. The boy remained quiet and still kept looking towards the ship on the horizon till he could see it no more.

It was evening when they returned to the village. The house was very quiet, somber and still. It was then that the void grew more apparent. Everything in the house seemed to be at a standstill.

“When I grow big, I too will go to work and bring you lot of things” the boy told his mother just after the evening Rosary prayer before supper time, as he glanced towards the toy on the shelf his father had brought for him. It was a wooden toy soldier. He realized he had not cared much for it during the preceding hectic two months when his father was around. He was unaware of the significance of this wooden toy soldier would bear in the years to come. The evening wore on slowly and seemed endless. The church bell rang the eight o'clock nightly call for prayers. And finally after having their supper they sat in the balcao for a while. And later saying his daily night prayers the boy fell asleep.

He woke up rather early the following morning and the first thought that came to his mind was whether his father had reached Bombaim. His mother was already up preparing tea by the fireside. She was looking into the fire as she tossed small pieces of wood into the burning embers. She seemed very quiet and sad. He wondered what she might be thinking of. He saw the fire reflected in the glint of tear in her eye which saddened him. Perhaps she was also thinking about his father. Now, it was his turn to give some precious advice: “Don’t cry, mother”, the boy said. “Dad will return. He has gone to work far away, but he will certainly be back soon.”

The long shadows of the trees on clear ground in front of their house grew smaller as the sun rose. Everything seemed quite and serene around in the village. That morning sitting on the front porch, sipping his tea, the boy reflected on the previous two months when the whole village had been so vibrant.

He wondered how he could ever forget the good things he enjoyed and how much he would miss his father. He remembered that some time ago his mother had told him that his father would return home one day for good. When would that day come?

His father had taken him everywhere, visiting new places to see and explore, to the beach, to the market place every day to buy fresh fish and groceries, to his favourite restaurant in town for ice-cream, to the hills for walks, to pluck 'canttam' and 'cashew apples', to the lakes and springs for picnics, and to nearby streams for a swim. He had made for him his very own first mini 'robond'. He had also taken him fishing to the salt-water river, for football games in the nearby town, and to distant places visiting friends and relatives, by bus, taxi and ferry, all of which he had enjoyed immensely.

The boy’s father had also taken him along when he had gone to meet the Capuchin Friars at his school, nestled high up on the hill among the verdant surroundings. They had walked their way up. On their way back they had stopped to pluck ripe cashews from the trees that grew on the slopes of the hill. It had been a great fun-filled day although the climb was very tiring. They had made a brief stop at the shop down the hill for a soda, a real thirst-quencher. They had walked back home on the winding path through the picturesque village. His father greeted the people he knew along the way. He also waved out to the people who worked in the fields. "My Dad knows everybody, or so it seems" the boy had thought.

Almost lost in his thoughts, sitting there he realized that soon his summer holidays would end too, and he himself would shortly be busy with his school studies again. He would have to leave all the thoughts of the good times of fun and play behind him. As he sat there he could see his alma mater in the distance, right on the top of the hill. All the boys from his village walked up to study there. Very shortly the great times that he had enjoyed and shared with the people in his village would only perhaps be a nostalgic memory. A holiday that was filled with fun was nearing its end.

In the following years as the boy grew up, his father had come home on leave every year and brought him more toys. Similar enjoyable holidays had followed, but for years the wooden TOY SOLDIER stood silently on the shelf, like a sentinel guarding a town, occupying that space on the shelf with its fixed gaze towards the opposite wall and seemingly looking through and beyond it, into the distant hills, staring into a future he never knew, while conveying an important message.

As the boy grew older, he often reminisced about his father, and through his own uncertainties and obstacles, he found strength in the thought of the wooden toy soldier his father had given him, motionless yet hardy, strong, protective and inspiring. As he grew up, he realized that he had looked at that toy soldier more than he had played with it, perhaps in an unconscious effort to preserve it, and in turn replace the absence of his father. There were many times when he would take it down from the shelf, dust it and put it back in its apparent rightful place.

But unlike that idle wooden toy soldier on the shelf my own dad was a real life soldier. He worked hard in his life, cared, loved and did the best that he possibly could for his family. He stood tall against all odds and provided me with hope and inspiration, successfully setting an example to march on through my own.

Tony Fernandes

*Canttam*, a berry-like black-coloured local fruit found wild on Goa's hills.

*Robond*, a locally-made catapult, which children would play with in Goa, made from a v-shaped tree branch and waste automobile or cycle tubes.

*Praia*, Portuguese (beach)

*Mando*, *Dulpod* (Konkani Folk Songs)

*balcão*, Portuguese (balcony)

The above article is published in my book 'Goa - Memories of my Homeland' - Poems & Short Stories, Photographs and Illustrations. (2004)
First published: Canada 2004, Second edition: Pilar Training Institute, Goa - India.

Saturday, June 13, 2009



by Tony Fernandes


Today is the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua, born 1195, died 13th June 1231. Incidentally, Tuesday, dedicated to him, is the day of his funeral. In the true Goan tradition - 'Happy Feast' - greetings and good wishes to all on this forum. May the good St. Anthony shower his blessings on everyone for their well being, health and happiness.

St. Anthony is the patron saint of sailors, travelers and fishermen in many countries like Portugal, Italy, France and Spain. He is also a saint of the poor, the sick, the homeless and lepers, the paralytic, the blind and the deaf. His statue is sometimes placed on the masts of ships. And of course he is well known for his miracles all over the world. Incidentally, St. Anthony was actually Portuguese and from Lisbon, and not Padua, where he died.  And by the way, St. Francis of Assisi, was an Italian Roman Catholic friar, deacon, preacher and founder of the Franciscan Order that St. Anthony belonged to.

But to us folks in Goa he is well known too, honoured and respected, petitioned for his blessings, and attributed in religion and in legend in various aspects.

Besides being the Patron Saint of my alma mater, the good and miraculous St. Anthony has churches and chapels dedicated in his honour all over . His statues, framed pictures and paintings in all shapes and sizes are prominently displayed in every Goan home. Buses have his name printed in large bold signage on both sides, like for instance – “St. Anthony’s Travels” is not uncommon, while the front and rear of many buses and taxis read: “St. Anthony, Pray for Us”. His statue or his picture is almost everywhere – inside buses and in taxis and in restaurants. Would it not then, be remiss not to mention that so many of us are baptized in his very name, like myself for instance.

Restaurants bearing his name may be acceptable to some extent, but what has bewildered me most, since a long time ago, is that big tavernas bearing his name serve liquor – such as “St. Anthony’s Bar” to quote one. Having been unable to either transform or change that fact, I have finally come to reluctantly accept it. And that too, in a way perhaps, justifies - it may be well meant from the point of view of the owners of such establishments. Though I’d like to think so only on the lighter side, without offence or ridicule meant or referred,  only to simply say that I would like to believe that the intentions of the tavernas’ owners are good and sincere after all.

In as much as they would like their business to prosper in the Saint’s good name and patronage, I think they all mean well otherwise. Perhaps they assume that after their guests have consumed their quota of spirits and departed (I mean for home), it is then up to St. Anthony to have pity, forgive and guide the intoxicated or tipsy men safely home!

We are lucky to have St. Anthony as our patron too. Personally, I have invoked his intervention many times and he has obliged. I guess he has been a guiding light and a source of inspiration to students of Monte.

St. Anthony is also the one who is invoked for his intervention in recovering lost articles. I remember I did that as a teenager. Even now I often ask for his help, perhaps because of my own fault and bad memory, but nevertheless he always obliges by bestowing his blessings.

As a young lad I remember praying to St. Anthony for rain. My grandma was worried and distressed with thoughts of crops failing. So, on a beaten path making a bee-line through the fields my grandmother led our family and the rest of the folks in the village carrying a little statue of St. Anthony, treading their way to the Holy Cross to sing to her favourite saint a Litany. While praying and singing in harmony, everyone had trust in the miraculous cross and of course in St. Anthony. Invariably it rained that very night. When we woke up the next morning the fields were soaked to the joy of everyone.

There are many more legends that prevail about St. Anthony in our beautiful land, Goa.

The most well known is one of Saint Anthony and Child Jesus playing on his prayer book, as portrayed both in statues and in holy pictures. The account of this legend is that Saint Anthony was once passing through the region of Limoges in France, and as night fell, a rich businessman in that area had offered hospitality, rest and silence to Saint Anthony in his country estate. He was given a separate room to meditate and pray in peace. But it is believed that during the night his host passed by his lighted window. There in a brilliant light he saw a little infant of great beauty playing on a prayer book that the Saint was reading. The witness trembled at the sight, and in the morning Saint Anthony, to whom it had been disclosed that his host had seen the visitation, called him and requested him not to disclose it to anyone as long as he lived. That little infant was Child Jesus. Appropriately so, there is a very touching hymn in our very own Konkani language that is sung and dedicated to him. Here is it below.

Sant Antoni ochoreanchea Santa,
Portugal tuzo onod vortouta,
Tujea livrar ballok khelta,
Menin Jezu Razancho

(Miraculous St. Anthony,

Portugal is proud of your glory,
On your prayer book plays
Child Jesus King of Kings)

An imposing life-size statue stands to this very day in the very same spot for more than half a century at the entrance to our school in old stone building which portrays St. Anthony carrying Infant Jesus in his left hand and bread in his right. But more on St. Anthony’s bread later.

“HAPPY FEAST” to all.
13th June 2009
Tony Fernandes
Class of 1964

Above is the picture of the rare life-size statue of St. Anthony of Padua, holding bread in his right hand, and the Christ Child seated on his left arm. The statue, placed at the front of the main school building situated on the hill known as Monte de Guirim, faces North with his benevolent serene gaze over all those who pass through the portal of our great Alma Mater and beyond the vast stretches of land and fields that extend up to the hills of Mapusa town.

To read about St. Anthony's Bread, please click on the following link: